The NEXUS Institute

Nexus Institute

The NEXUS Institute is one of 92 high school youth theology institutes funded by the Lilly Endowment, under the oversight of the Forum for Theological Enrichment. NEXUS exists to transform the landscape of the Lutheran Church through innovative and intentional development of young adults who want to be more involved in the nexus of faith, life, and the church.

The institute is a life-changing opportunity where young adults engage in theological learning, leadership development, and vocational discernment, all in the context of intentional Christian community, and are sent out to transform their local communities.

Welcome to the NEXUS Institute

Full-time ministry is not what it used to be. We need to chart a new course. If you want to get below the surface of simplistic understandings of church and God and how Scripture and faith intersect with the world around you, NEXUS is the place.

Hope Over Fear.Come join us as focus on owning our radical hope in Christ by studying the Old and New Testaments and applying it to our lives.

COVID-19 Update: Due to the current pandemic and a desire to keep each other healthy, The NEXUS Institute will be shifting to an ALL-ONLINE format for summer 2020. High school students are the future of Christian ministry - and we don't want to miss you for a whole summer! We thank everyone for their flexibility, and we look forward to engaging in theology, community, and vocation!

This Also Means: If travel was keeping you or someone you know from applying, now is the time to apply!

Apply for NEXUS Nominate a Student for Nexus Become a Nexus Mentor
What is The NEXUS Institute?

The NEXUS Institute is a week-long Theology Institute program for high school students. The NEXUS Institute is a life-changing experience of community and learning focused on shaping people to be agents of God's transformation in the church and the world.

Through interactive learning experiences, discussion, and collaboration you'll explore why Jesus matters, and how your life is intended to be a life of transformation. You'll explore how the church relates to the pressing issues of our world today and why the church matters. As you explore with others, you'll also get a taste of intentional Christian community - the kind that can change the world.

Who are NEXUS partners, and who is NEXUS for?

The NEXUS Institute is funded by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., with the endowment’s mission of “promoting and supporting religious, educational or charitable purposes.” The heart of NEXUS engaging our young people theologically and giving them opportunities to explore God’s vocational call to ministry, all within a supportive learning community, is for the purpose of raising up future church leaders. NEXUS is a program of Grand View University in Des Moines, IA, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The NEXUS Institute affirms the existence and importance of the larger body of Christ, all those who call Jesus Lord and Savior. Each summer, we focus our theological learning on the Christian scriptures and also practical ministry skills. NEXUS aims to serve the larger Lutheran family (per the original Lilly grant) to inspire and cultivate future ministry leaders in order to further all traditions’ mission to bring the gospel into the world.

Please see our list of current partners and sponsors below.

Our Primary Partners & Sponsors, as of 2020:

If you or an organization are interested in supporting additional NEXUS weeks, please reach out to us.

What will 2020 NEXUS Online look like?

Greetings in Christ! We thank you for your patience as we shift The NEXUS Institute into an online format for summer 2020. Our desire behind switching to online, beyond health concerns with the pandemic, is to provide theology, community, and vocational engagement for youth in chunks that are doable. Although we will miss meeting everyone in person and enjoying being on Grand View’s beautiful campus, we plan to still have plenty of fun and dig into the keys parts of NEXUS during our time together. We believe this new circumstance provides us an opportunity to engage faith of young adults’ turf (online). This will help them navigate their lives going forward.

Below are updates as to what NEXUS Online will look like. We are in the beginning stages of recording, so small changes may occur, which will be communicated within a week of the institute (read more under WELCOME BOX below).


The dates for The NEXUS Institute will remain the same (June 28-July 3 and July 12-17) and the time commitment for the week is looking to be 1-2 hours Sunday (time TBD at this point), and 5-6 hours per day Monday-Friday (with one hour on-your-own and one other optional hour of casual hangout on Zoom with games). We will begin weekdays at 10:30 am Central Standard Time and conclude as a group by 2:15 pm. Participants will be encouraged to eat lunch over their scheduled break or while viewing a prerecorded session (so we don’t have people eating live over Zoom). The schedule for Monday-Friday will look something like this (PR indicates “Prerecorded” material. “L” indicates live interaction.):






Worship (PR)





Old Testament (PR)





Discussion (L)










New Testament (PR)





NT Discussion (L)





Small Groups (L)





NEXUS Late Night & Evening Worship (PR)

On your own time before tomorrow a.m.

On your own time before tomorrow a.m.

On your own time before tomorrow a.m.

On your own time before tomorrow a.m.

Hangout (L)





We will be using prerecorded sessions (delivery TBD – possibly using YouTube premiere), some of which will include moments of reflection to break up the worship and teaching, as well as Zoom Video Conferencing (with the use of password-protected interactions and a facilitator allowing members in each time). Each class will be followed with in-person Zoom discussions with the pastors and professors, as well as breaking out into discussion groups so the youth can dig into the topics and get to know each other more. Each breakout session will have 1 or 2 trained mentors or staff in each group to facilitate conversation. We are also playing with the idea of having myself and Grand View’s Student Ministry Director serve as “online hosts” to keep energy up and help guide everyone with the technology transitions throughout the morning.

NEXUS Late Night (someone who works in ministry is interviewed - we hear about their faith and vocation story) as well as evening worship will be prerecorded and youth will be asked to view this at their convenience before the next morning session begins. Each evening there will be an optional Hangout on Zoom where mentors will facilitate fun games so the youth can have some casual fun time.


Coming 1-2 weeks before your NEXUS week, participants will receive a NEXUS Welcome Box in the mail! It will come with final information and materials for the week, as well as a NEXUS t-shirt.

When Is NEXUS?

The 2020 schedule is: the week of June 28-July 3 and the week of July 12-17 (preference given this week to high school students applying from NALC congregations).

Who can apply?

Applicants must be currently in high school. Applicants should be unsettled with the way things are. They should want to contribute to God's ongoing work of transformation in the world. They should have an interest in better understanding what difference Jesus makes for everyday living.

Apply to the NEXUS Institute

How much does NEXUS cost?

Attending The NEXUS Institute is free. Participants will have to provide their own transportation to Des Moines, Iowa. Assistance is available upon request and need. You can find the Travel Financial Assistance Request Form here.

NEXUS is made possible through a generous grant as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative. Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family, J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli. Through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company supports the causes of religion, education and community development. They seek to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians, largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

I'm a pastor/youth leader, what should I do?
If you’re a pastor or youth director/minister/pastor, there are three main things you can do:
  1. Find those students you know would benefit from this and tell them they should apply!
  2. Nominate a student who should be a part of NEXUS!
  3. Contact us for more details.

Download Adult Attendee Guidelines

Adult Attendee Application

I'd like to work at NEXUS - what can I do?

If you are a current college or seminary student, consider applying as a NEXUS Mentor. NEXUS Institute college mentors are key players who contribute to participants’ overall experience of Christian community of learning and fellowship by sharing faith, walking alongside as they ask questions and seek understanding, encouraging participants in all areas, and especially supporting participants’ enthusiasm for their own potential as active ministers of the good news of the gospel.

Does this sound like you? Apply today!

Become a Nexus Mentor

Nexus Mentor Job Description 

There are several other ways for you to be involved with NEXUS, including participating as a:

  • Speaker
  • Project overseer
  • Local connection

If you’ve got other ideas or want to know more, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

How do I financially contribute to The NEXUS Institute?

We would like to continue providing NEXUS at little-to-no cost for participants. We believe this will have a tremendous impact on the future Church and would love to have you partner with us and what God is doing through The NEXUS Institute!

For financial contributions, please contact us at nexus @ or contact our Vice-President for Advancement, Bill Burma at bburma @ Thank you in advance for your support of The NEXUS Institute!

Is The NEXUS Institute on social media?

Yes, we are! Please be sure to check us out on any of the following:

Have a Question? I Can Help.

Kate Faas
Director of The NEXUS Institute